Just like Arnie, I'm back!

I did it. I went back to group.

After a few weeks of psyching myself up and getting my head back in the game I was so ready to go back. And I was so happy with my results.

Since I was last in group, in the middle of May last year, I am just 2.5lbs heavier - and just two pounds from my target range. I was so convince my scales would have been too kind and I'd be crushed, but it's all good.

I rang Tom when I came out, all excited, and told him I'm 2.5lbs heavier than when I was last in group.

His reply?

"Well you did put a lot more on than that."

Cheers, babe. That's love right there!

He is right, though, I did. But I've clawed it back, I'm back in control and I feel great.

From Sunday until today I have been a bit better behaved than normal, determined not to be left red-faced when I stepped on the scales.

After my first successful SP day in over a year on Sunday, I was off to a great start.

Monday's meals went like this...

Breakfast: Fat free quark with strawberries and raspberries
Dinner: Homemade spicy butternut squash soup with a ham sandwich in a wholemeal roll (HEB)
Snack: A clementine
Tea: Spicy sausage pasta (2 syns for four Morrisons Eat Smart Cumberland sausages) with courgette, red onion, peppers, cherry tomatoes and a side of spinach.
Snack: Frozen 'chocolate buttons' (3 syns)
Syns for the day: 5

The frozen 'chocolate buttons' were insane. I'd seen them on a Facebook group I'm part of and they looked like little fudges. In reality, they were more like disks of ice-cream/Mini Milk - but they did the trick all the same.

I just mixed a sachet of Cadbury Highlights with two teaspoons of Choc Shot and a toffee Muller Light. Then put them in some teeny, tiny bun cases and into the freezer for two hours.

The recipe I saw used silicone moulds but I didn't have those, and the bun cases worked just as well. Next time I am going to use a vanilla Muller and maybe get some lolly moulds and turn them into fake Mini Milks. They were soooo good.

Here they are:

Tuesday's meals went as follows..

Breakfast: 5% sugar Cheerios (HEB) with fat free quark, strawberries and raspberries
Dinner: Homemade spicy butternut squash soup
Snack: Apple and pear
Tea: Creamy salmon linguine (made with fat free quark) with asparagus and tenderstem broccoli.
Syns for the day: 0

I had a majorly busy day on Thursday so didn't have much time to eat. Tea was super late, too, which I hate but I didn't even walk in the door until gone 8.15pm. By the time I'd chucked together my go-to quick and healthy tea and we actually sat down to eat it, it was almost 8.45pm!

No time to want any snacks before bedtime then!

And today I've had...

Breakfast: Fat free quark with strawberries and raspberries
Snack: An apple
Dinner: Homemade spicy butternut squash soup
Snack: A pear and two clementines

I went to the gym straight from work and then to group straight from the gym, so haven't had chance to have any tea yet. I did have two Alpen Light bars as my HEB after I was weighed - I didn't want to take any chances!

I'm now trying to prep breakfast and dinner for tomorrow, which will be trickier than normal as I'm in court all day. So I'll most likely have to take a sandwich for dinner. And breakfast will probably have to be fruit on the bus. But it's ok, I got this.

Best of all? I've got the app back!!! I can finally stand in Morrisons and work out syns on things before I buy it - and know they're right - rather than guessing afterwards or just putting it back.

I've got my mind totally set on losing 2lbs this week now to get me back in my target range ready for my dress fitting next weekend - eeeek! I'm also going to challenge myself to have a different breakfast each day, to try mix things up a bit and add some variety.


How I managed to lose weight this week is a Slimming World miracle

Ok, so to start, I have a confession to make. I didn't go to group on Wednesday.

After all the hype, the nerves, the expectation, and the promises (sorry, Beth!) I didn't go. I didn't bail, though. It wasn't that I was too scared or anything. I was unwell. Actually, it probably would've been the best time to go as my weight probably plummeted on Wednesday!

I had all the intentions of going after I'd been to the gym but I just felt crap. I had also forgotten my card, in the rush getting ready that morning, so when I got home just wanted to stay there.

I will be going this Wednesday though. I've even put it in my diary so 1. I remember my card, and 2. I don't arrange to do anything else. A late meeting at work can seem pretty tempting when dreading the scales.

So, food wise, this week has been a mixed bag. It hasn't stopped me losing 3lbs though! I was so surprised when I stepped on the scales. Especially after last week's disappointment. I did measure myself after I posted last weekend, though, and discovered my hips are 35" and my waist 29" - just half an inch away from what they measured when I got to target. Pretty good going, really!

Anyway, back to this week! Being poorly Wednesday/Thursday probably had something to do with my loss - but I'll take it!

Obviously, Tuesday was Valentine's Day so we enjoyed that with a meal in the evening. It was just a Morrisons meal for two so I was very careful in what I chose for us to have. I was tempted by some of the high-syn dishes but in the end went for steak - which I knew would be a safde choice. We had it with veg and some homemade SW chips - perfect. I wasn't compromising on pudding, but when I saw roughly how many syns it was I did feel sick (it's no wonder I was poorly for two days after!) Because I still haven't been back to group I don't have the SW app and the syn bible, so I totally have to guess syns for things like this.

596 calories in one pudding, though. That's not going to be less than 15 syns! These puddings were roughly the size of the Cadbury caramel puddings and each one was in a small plastic pot. It had 110% of your recommended daily allowance of saturated fat. Absolutely horrific. Or at least, it would be, if it didn't taste like actual heaven. I swear to god it was one of the nicest supermarket bought puddings I have ever had. It was worth every syn.

Aside from Tuesday (and Friday, when I went for an impromptu lunch date with my mum) it's been a pretty normal week. I didn't really fancy much in the way of food when I felt under the weather. Wednesday night I only had tea because I was making it for Tom. I had a really small amount too, compared to my normal portion sizes. There was no speed in there because, honestly, I just couldn't be arsed. I just wanted to go to bed.

I've ended up eating the same meal for lunch almost every day this week, which got pretty boring. I did the campfire stew and it was beautiful when I had it Monday, but by Thursday I was sick to death of it. I'd made it in the slow cooker on Sunday night with the leftover gammon from the roast dinner I made. It was just the gammon (which usually you'd put in raw, then shred once cooked. But mine was already cooked so I put it in shredded), with two tins of baked beans, three peppers, an onion, some garlic and some tomato puree. I cooked it on low for four and a half hours (it recommends more but my gammon was already cooked) then split it into four tubs for the week.

It was so filling that it meant most days I didn't want/need anything else to eat until my tea - which is exactly what you want from your lunch!

I don't really have much to say about this week. I didn't really had much of an appetite Wednesday/Thursday so was purely been eating because I knew I had to. I haven't really been to the gym much either, and when I went on Wednesday I felt so crap I hardly did anything. Although, I did manage to burn 450 calories - so almost got rid of the chocolate pudding from Valentine's Day! Win!

My aim for the week was to get more speed on my plate. It's not really worked out on a lunchtime, purely because I couldn't be bothered to carry any more tupperware into work with me with some salad etc. in it. The stew has peppers and onion in it, although in all honesty I'm not sure whether it would equate to 1/3 of my plate/tub.

Tea time has been much better (except Wednesday) and I have made conscious efforts to get more speed on my plate.

Friday I had a go a to making pizza using a bread mix which is a HEB. I've had it in the cupboard for ages but could never be bothered with the faffing. It's hardly a 10 minute job and is soooo messy. Not the thing to make after just blitzing the kitchen clean!

Anyway, as I portioned the bread mix into 60g balls I genuinely thought the pizza would be the size of a cracker. But with some careful rolling and pulling it was a good sized, thin base. I had loads of 60g balls left so wrapped them and have popped them in the freezer for future pizza making nights.

It was honestly soooooo good. I topped it with 40g reduced fat cheddar (HEA), chicken, red onion and peppers. My sauce for the base was a mix of passata and tomato purée.

I  serve it with SW chips (which I've finally nailed!!) and a big pile of spinach and peppers.


Filled a big, big hole!

Sunday's breakfast was also a dream. I'm a big pancake fan and have struggled to find a SW friendly pancake recipe that actually tastes like pancakes. Cue the Syn Free Oat Pancakes by Pinch of Nom. They tasted just like 'proper' pancakes and were so easy to make and super filling.

So glad I've discovered this recipe in time for Pancake Day! I used frozen berries to have with them and drizzled all the juice from them over the pancakes - it was like having fruity syrup!

All in all, I'm kinda surprised I actually managed to lose weight this week. I've been far more relaxed this week than the others since I've been back following Slimming World. I've used more syns and treated myself more, rather than barely indulging in any syns through the week.

I have heard people say they find they have better losses when they do use their syns, as opposed to when they don't have any or restrict themselves. I suppose that's what they're there for, though, to be used. And Slimming World isn't about depriving yourself of the things you want and like, it's about the balance. I suppose my first few weeks back on it I didn't want to jeopardise myself by slipping up and giving in to temptation. After Christmas my self-control was at an all-time low and I knew if I gave in and had a 5 syn Freddo I'd have eaten the whole pack and half the cupboard in no time!

I am feeling so much more positive now and 100% ready to be back at group on Wednesday. I promise I am going this time! I'll let you know how I get on and how accurate my scales are compared to Beth's - eek!

Food diary:

Breakfast - Baked oats (using 40g porridge oats as HEB) with strawberries and fat free quark.
Snack - Blueberries.
Dinner - SW campfire stew.
Snack - Two clementines and a pear
Tea - Spicy sausage pasta (1.5 syns for three Morrisons Eat Smart Cumberland sausages - 0.5 syns each) with spinach and roasted peppers on the side.
Snack - Curly Wurly brownie (6 syns).
Syns for the day: 7.5.

Breakfast - 5% sugar Cheerios (40g for HEB) with fat free quark and raspberries.
Dinner - SW campfire strew.
Snack - Two clementines
Tea - Sirloin steak with broccoli, green beans and carrots and homemade SW chips followed by melt in the middle belgian chocolate pudding (30 syns)
Drink: Two glasses of prosecco (9 syns)
Syns for the day: 39.

Breakfast - Choco-nut malt wheats (40g for HEB) with 100ml semi-skimmed milk (HEA) - used the rest of my allowance in coffees through the day - followed by two clementines.
Dinner - SW campfire stew.
Tea - SW Carbonara made with fat free quark.
Syns for the day: 0

Breakfast - Choco-nut malt wheats (40g for HEB) with 100ml semi-skimmed milk (HEA) - used the rest of my allowance in coffees through the day - followed by two pears.
Dinner - SW campfire stew.
Tea - Cottage pie with broccoli and green beans.
Syns for the day: 0

Breakfast - Bacon, poached eggs, baked beans and a big pile of spinach.
Dinner - Roast ham, poached eggs, hollondaise sayce (5 syns) and a white muffin (8 syns)
Snack - Chocolate cake (20 syns)
Tea - Homemade pizza (HEB and HEA) with spinach, peppers and SW chips.
Syns for the day: 33

Breakfast - Two clementines and two Alpen light bars (HEB)
Dinner - Chicken pasta and tomato sauce with cherry tomatoes
Tea - Speedy chicken jambalaya
Drink - Two cocktails (approx 16 syns)
Syns for the day: 16

Sunday: (SP)
Breakfast - Oat pancakes (HEB) with raspberries, strawberries and fat free quark.
Dinner -Butternut squash soup with a tuna sandwich in wholemeal roll (second HEB and 1 syn for mayo)
Snack - Two clementines
Tea - Caribbean beef and pepper stew with broccoli and green beans.
Syns for the day: 1


Why we shouldn't obsess over the number on the scales

I was feeling a bit deflated on Sunday after I weighed myself, I'm not going to lie. I felt like I had lost way more than 1lb and could visibly see and feel a difference.

I mentioned in my post that I was going to take my measurements that night, so I had another way to measure my progress aside from the number on the scales. It's dangerous, sometimes, to get so wound up by the number it shows.

People say "muscle weighs more than fat" which isn't typically true; although I know what they mean. It's like that silly question: "what weighs more, a tonne of bricks or a tonne of feathers?" Well, they both weigh the same as they weigh a tonne. There will just be far, far more feathers to get to that tonne than there would be bricks. Just like with fat and muscle.

As the below image shows, 5lbs of fat takes up more space than 5lbs of muscle. It's not that it weighs more, it just takes up less space.

I often see pictures on Instagram when I'm stalking fit women (I swear I spend more time searching 'body goals' than I do looking for hot men!) who weigh more now they're toned and slimmer.  It always reminds me that the number on the scales is really such a small part of a bigger picture.

Like below. This popped up on my news feed earlier.

Her legs are slimmer, her waist is trimmer, yet her weight is more. 

So, after I felt like a failure for "just losing one pound" last week, I took my measurements and compared them to my measurements when I got to target.

My hips, on Sunday night, measured at 35" and my waist at 29" - just half an inch away from what I was when I got to target last March.  When I got to target, I had lost 8" from my waist and 7" from my hips.

So, while the scales may show I still have a few pounds to go, my body is showing me I'm not actually that far away. If I wasn't obsessing over the scales, I'd definitely be more than happy with my body how it is now. Maybe not totally satisfied, but every girl can pick herself apart and focus on her flaws. Even Michelle Keegan.

I really don't want to let myself get too obsessed over measurements and numbers on scales, because it's not a healthy headspace to be in. But I needed to know that my efforts were actually paying off. It's so deflating when you feel like you're trying so hard but the scales missed the memo. But I need to remember that I look better and feel better, and that's what matters. Not some piddly number on the scales.

I won't give up on Slimming World, hell no. I totally could not have found any better way to lose weight and still eat all my favourite food.

But I can't let myself stress about the scales. When I went to group every week I didn't have scales at home, so the only time I weighed myself was a Wednesday night. When I stopped going to group, I bought some scales of my own to keep a track of my weight at home.

Now, I weigh myself every night. I weigh myself when I wake up on a morning (absolutely love that number every morning!) and I weigh myself after I've been to the toilet (we all want to know what difference it really makes, let's not kid ourselves!) I am scales obsessed. And I hate it.

If I knew how to take the batteries out of them, I totally would. The fact my size 10 super skinny jeans still fit me is the only measurement I need in my life.

Happy Valentine's Day

As a single person, I bloody hated Valentine's Day. I mean, what is there to like about it if, like me, you never had a valentine? It's like vegetarians celebrating bacon sandwich day.

However, since Tom came into my life it's been a different story. I kinda see what it's about now.

I say 'kinda', because I think you should show someone everyday how much you love them, and not just save it for one day a year. Although, it is lovely seeing on Facebook so many loved up people and so much 'niceness' everywhere. There's not enough of that in the world at the moment.
Everything is always so expensive on Valentine's Day too - meals out double in price and flower costs soar. The only bonus is Prosecco is halved and so are the choccies (although, not much good for me when I'm following Slimming World to the letter!)

We never go extravagant on Valentine's Day. Tom usually gets me flowers and something silly. I wouldn't have it any other way.

This year, he got me a single red rose for me getting home from work last night. There was also two cards on the side. I thought I maybe had a secret admirer, but they were both from Tom.

When I asked him why he'd got me two, he said: "One you can show your mum and one is just for your eyes."

He's so funny.

He then "had to go out" because the florist he called at on the way home from work only had bouquets for £75 left. £75 for flowers - are you having my eyes out?! That, right there, is why I think Valentine's Day is silly. I love flowers, but if Tom spent £75 on a bouquet I would seriously question his sanity. They are beautiful while they last but they will die. 

Anyway, he returned from town, ordered me to shut my eyes, switched all the lights off, fumbled around in the cupboard under the stairs, before 'ta-dah'-ing with a huge gift bag emblazoned with 'happy birthday' and a bunch of flowers sticking out the top.

Inside, there was the new Bridget Jones film, some confetti stuff for the bath (who knew that was a thing) and some lip balm. You may be thinking 'lip balm, how random' but there is a tale.

Every night, when we're about to go to sleep, I remember I've not put my lip balm on. This lives in my handbag, which is the other side of the bedroom. Tom always has some lip balm on his side of the bed, so I always ask to borrow his. Every night he huffs and puffs when he has to turn the light back on and find the lip balm. So he got me my own. That, right there, is what Valentine's Day is about!

We also exchanged cards last night because, in Tom's words, "I'll be too tired in the morning." 

He has today off work after working the weekend so doesn't surface until mid to late morning. 

"Fair enough," I thought. I wouldn't be happy if he woke me up at 6.15am to give me a card. Unless it was his debit card.

We swapped cards, it was all cute, I sat back down to watch Coronation Street, and then it came. The real reason he gave me my Valentine's goodies a night early...

"I'm just off to play on the Xbox now for 25 minutes babe."

Suddenly it all made sense. He wasn't really saving himself from the early rise. He could've still had his lie in and just given me my cards etc. when I got home from work.

Nah, he was buttering me up so I wouldn't kick off about him playing on his bastard Xbox for '25 minutes' (which is always more like over an hour). Sneaky. 

We have no extravagant plans tonight. We've got the Morrisons Valentine's meal in the fridge (which was such great value I'm considering going and buying another for tomorrow night's tea!) and that's the extent of our 'celebrations'. Tom has said we can watch the new Bridget Jones that he bought me too.

Unless he finds it as hilarious as I did when I saw it in the cinema, I guarantee he'll be upstairs on his Xbox by 9pm.

Happy Valentine's Day!


A week of trying new things, hurdles and my 'speed awareness' course

It feels so good to be back into the swing of things, my mojo is well and truly back. I am a bit disappointed with what the scales have told me this evening, but I'll elaborate more on that later.

Let's go back to when I was all happy and flowy last week.

Last week was great, it feels so good to be back on plan and 110% focused.  My cravings are lessening by the day and I very rarely snack in between my meals (other than fruit).

I was hit with a few hurdles this week, some of which were easier to get over than others.  The first one was my colleague's birthday.  We always do birthdays at work, there's always cake and/or Krispy Kremes.  Given that there is just two of us in our office at the moment, I decided against the usual caterpillar cake. While we used to smash one every Friday between five of us (pre-Slimming World days), I decided it may be a bit much for two of us.

Instead, I got a small, individual Victoria sponge from Morrisons.  "Perfect," I thought. That is, except, I work with the nicest person ever who still insisted on sharing it with me and our lovely receptionist. I protested, turning down the Krispy Kreme he tried to give me too, but still ended up with cake. It was lovely, and I did enjoy it, but I totally wouldn't have had it if it weren't a birthday.

My other hurdle was on Friday. I had a lunchtime meeting with a lovely, local children's author/friend about a huge upcoming reading festival she is planning. It was in Costa and I knew I would struggle with what to have for lunch. I ended up opting for a chicken fajita wrap, which I later discovered was 22 syns. *Gulp* It was tasty, and I didn't have any other syns that day but, again, I would have avoided it if it weren't for circumstance. I toyed with having nothing other than a coffee from Costa but didn't want to appear rude. Food politics are hard.

Other than that, my week has been plain sailing. I had actual chocolate for the first time in ages tonight. I really, really craved it so did some Googling and came across a lovely sounding recipe for Curly Wurly brownies (not Curly Willy as I called them on Instagram earlier!) I didn't have some of the ingredients so I had to modify it slightly.

Here's what it came out like...

It was honestly beaut.

Here's how I made it....

50g self-raising flour
1 tbsp sweetener
4 tsp cocoa
3 eggs
2 Curly Wurly bars

Spray a loaf tin with Fry Light
Break the Curly Wurly bars up and put in the bottom of the tin
Mix together the flour, sweetener and cocoa together
Add in the eggs and mix together
(If a little thick and gloopy add a splash of water)
Pour over the broken Curly Wurly
Bake at 180 for 10-15 mins

It's perfect when turned out the tin cos the caramel from the Curly Wurly bars all melts and adds a gooey topping mmmm. It works out at 24 syns for the whole loaf (according to the syn sums in the back of my battered book!) I did it in a loaf at it's narrower, a traditional brownie tin they'd have been wafer thin and nobody wants a brownie like a pancake. Although, that does sound kinda dreamy - brownie pancakes mmm! I cut them into four pieces, cos I'm a greedy cow, so it works out 6 syns per piece.

I didn't even wait for it to cool, just wolfed it down with some strawberries and fat free quark, a Freddo and two Alpen Lights as my HEB for the day.

A huge plate of goodies for 11 syns.

It's been a week of trying new things.  I also tried the mushy pea curry.

A sentence I legit thought I would never say/write. When I told Tom it's what we were having for tea, he was sceptical. As was I.

I see everyone on the online SW groups banging on about how amazing it is, so I thought I'd give it a go. I am not a mushy pea fan, but I have seen others enjoy it who don't like them either, so thought I'd go for it.

I must admit, it wasn't as bad as I imagined. As I watched it cooking away I was already planning what we could have if neither of us liked it.  But it wasn't too bad.

I would definitely have it again (I'll have to, as the other half is in the freezer!) but it isn't my top SW curry choice.  It was super easy and quick to make, though, so providing I have mushy peas in the cupboard (they're not something I would ever buy unless making this) then it would be a good tea to make in a hurry. It was basically just two tins of mushy peas, a tin of baked beans, a tin of chopped tomatoes, some mushrooms sliced and a diced onion, with curry powder and chilli powder. You can add in any meat, too, so we added chicken.

I'm not sure whether it was mega filling, or whether I'd psyched myself up not to enjoy it, but I got full sooooo quick. I hardly made a dint in my plate!

Another hurdle was cooking Sunday dinner for my brother. I bloody love Sunday dinner and, like the true Yorkshire girl I am, the Yorkshire puddings are my favourite bit. I couldn't make Sunday dinner for Jack (and Tom, for when he eventually got home from work 2 minutes ago) without Yorkshire puddings. So I made them for them, and didn't have any myself. If that's not self-control I don't know what is. I also made the SW roast potatoes which, in my opinion, are just as good as originals.

For the roast potatoes, I just boil some potatoes for about 15 mins, drain them, rough up the edges, spray with Fry Light and put in my Acti Fry for approx 40-45 mins. They come out all crispy and golden and just generally amazing.

Anyway back to the matter at hand - my little weigh-in.

This week, I lost 1lb. Just one pesky pound. I am really disappointed because, even though I have been hit with some hurdles, I still felt I'd balanced it out and managed to remain 110% on it. I've been upping my gym attendance and I am really starting to see a difference now. I am so much more toned and have definitely lost inches. So I am trying not to fret too much about the number on the scales, because it's so easy for me to become obsessed with that, and focus more on how I look/feel.

I also need to remember this:

I see these pictures on Instagram of these mega fit women who post their comparison pictures. The left, they'll be a bit more round/flabby and, say, 11 stone. The right, they'll be toned, defined and super fit but 12 stone. Sometimes I need to remember that the number on the scales doesn't always tell it how it is.

After my blog post last week my consultant (I think I can still call her that, even though I haven't been to group since last May!) text me to remind me group is always there to help me achieve my goal. I have been toying with going back to group for some time now. I had planned to go back in the run up to the wedding to keep me on track, I just hadn't decided when. It's now less than 12 weeks till the wedding, so I know I need to get back soon.

Anyway, after she text I told her I was going back this week. I was so motivated and inspired to go back and see everyone and get back into the swing of things. But as Wednesday gets closer, I am pooing myself. Not literally, although that would be amazing and would make me feel much less petrified of the scales!!

I have promised her I'm going back now, so I have to.

I really can't back out now, but I am terrified. Probably more scared than when I first walked into that room on my very first night. Beth's scales will be totally different to mine, so I'm scared incase mine are hugely out compared to hers and I am left feeling totally deflated and disheartened.

I must remember, though, that I didn't climb out my target range overnight. It was a period of months of overindulgence on birthdays, Christmas and New Year. Therefore I'm not going to get back there overnight. One bad meal doesn't make you fat, just like one good meal doesn't make you skinny. I am so much closer than I would have been had I not got my head back in the game when I did, so I must keep looking forward. I am just a few pounds away so, even if I'm not back there by the time I go back to group on Wednesday, I should be by the following week.

I think I might take my measurements this evening, so that I have another way to mark my changes. If the scales are going to plateau I want to be able to see that all my hard work is making a difference somehow.

I'm already organised for this week coming, psyching myself up for my return to group on Wednesday.

I've made myself some baked oats for breakfast tomorrow morning. I have some fat free quark and some frozen strawberries in a little pot in the kitchen to take to enjoy with them. I also have a campfire stew in the slow cooker to have for lunch this week.

This week, my mini target is to get more speed food on my plate. It's always an after-thought "shit, there was barely any speed there" so I'll have some fruit or shovel some handfuls of spinach in my gob. This week, I'm going to make sure it's on my plate and eaten with my meals. Not as an after-thought. It's time for me to embark on a 'speed awareness' course for the week.

Food diary:

Breakfast - 40g Cheerios 5% sugar (HEB) with fat free quark and sliced strawberries.
Snack - A clementine.
Dinner - Homemade tomato soup with a ham and egg cup filled with peppers and spinach (kinda like an omelette cooked in a muffin tin).
Snack - A pear and a clementine.
Tea - Sweet chilli salmon (1.5 syns for sweet chilli sauce) with peppers, broccoli and rice.
Syns for the day: 1.5

Breakfast - Fat free quark with raspberries and strawberries.
Snack - A clementine.
Dinner - Homemade tomato soup and some roast chicken.
Snack - A pear and a clementine.
Snack - A slither of birthday cake. (approx 10 syns)
Tea - Cod fishcake (approx 5 syns) with green beans, cherry tomatoes, rice and new potatoes.
Syns for the day: Approx 15

Breakfast - Fat free quark with raspberries and strawberries.
Dinner - Homemade tomato soup and roast chicken.
Snack - Two clementines.
Tea - Morrisons Eat Smart butcher style sausages (4 syns for 4 sausages) and gnocchi (5 syns) with a tomato, onion and spinach sauce and spinach on the side.
Snack: Choco-nut malt wheats (HEB) with semi skimmed milk (HEA)
Syns for the day: 9

Breakfast - 40g 5% sugar Cheerios (HEB) with fat free quark and strawberries.
Dinner - Jacket potato with beans and salad (lettuce, peppers and carrots).
Snack - A clementine and a pear.
Tea - Chicken and vegetable pasta bake (filled with tomatoes, peppers and onions) and topped with 40g reduced fat cheddar (HEA) and a side of spinach.
Syns for the day: 0

Breakfast - Two slices of wholemeal toast (HEB) and some chopped apples.
Snack - Two pears.
Dinner - Chicken fajita wrap from Costa (22 syns)
Snack - An apple.
Tea - Leftover chicken and vegetable pasta bake with tomatoes, peppers and onions and a side of spinach.
Syns for the day: 22.

Breakfast - Mango, melon and pineapple with fat free quark mixed with a mango and passionfruit Muller Light.
Dinner - Bacon, Morrisons Eat Smart cumberland sausages (1.5 syns, two poached eggs, beans, two slices of wholemeal toast (HEB) and a huge side of spinach.
Tea - Mushy pea and chicken curry with boiled rice.
Syns for the day: 1.5

Breakfast - Two clementines, mango, pineapple and an apple.
Dinner - Roast gammon with SW roast potatoes, mashed potato, carrots, broccoli, green beans and peas.
Tea - Two Alpen Light bars (HEB), a Freddo (5 syns), strawberries and fat free quark and a slice of Curly Wurly brownie (6 syns) [recipe above]
Syns for the day: 11


9 insane wedding worries that keep me awake at night

On the whole I have remained relatively calm throughout the wedding planning process. Compared to how fraught I thought I would be, I think I've done a stirling job of keeping it together. I don't feel like I've had any major bridezilla meltdowns or lost my shit undeservedly at anything.

I have, however, had some completely crazy thoughts and worries which have kept me awake for hours at night.  I've shared one of these with you before on a previous blog.  I was worried our venue wouldn't save a room for us for our wedding night, even comparing us to Mary and Joseph in the Nativity and there being no room at the inn.  Doesn't exactly scream 'I've got my shit together', does it?

I'm notoriously a huge over thinker.

My usual thought train starts with me getting all excited, then I picture something in my head - for example my beautiful bridesmaids walking down the aisle with their bouquets - and I start to worry.  Start to worry about their bouquets and something going wrong with the flowers, worry that I'll forget to put one of their dresses in the car, worry that I'll have forgotten to buy an accessory or something for them... You can see where I am going with this.  I am a worrier.

My best friend, and maid of honour, always takes the brunt of my worries. I start talking and then my mouth runs away with me and I think of other things I've not yet worried about. I honestly think I need some help!

Anyway, bless her, she's getting married just after me so is going through all the same things and, when I start fretting, I make her all stressed too. She'll probably read this and her anxiety levels will go through the roof (I'm so sorry, Soph, it'll be over soon haha!)  She's been amazing, though, at keeping me sane and reminding me what really matters.

People keep asking me if I'm nervous about getting married as the day gets ever closer and I always have the same response - I'm not nervous about the marriage element, I'm nervous about all the things that could go wrong.

I've had some other crazy, irrational, unreasonable thoughts and worries, though, so I thought I'd share some of them with you all (just incase you didn't already think I was mentally unhinged enough!)

1. What if I am poorly?
Last year, out of nowhere, I got a really serious kidney infection and ended up in hospital.  I literally had no signs or symptoms of a water infection then bam, my kidneys were playing up and I was hospitalised for four days.  What if that happens again, and I'm staggering down the aisle with cold sweats and a stabbing pain in my back feeling like I am going to wet myself every three minutes?

2. On the subject of sweat, what if I get sweat patches and my dress looks ridiculous on my photos?
I'm a sweaty person.  I sweat when I'm nervous, when I'm warm, when I'm anxious, even sometimes when I'm cold... I just sweat a lot.  I'll undoubtedly be nervous, walking down the aisle with so many people staring at me, so what if I sweat like never before?  What if it's a hot day and I get a sweaty bum and it looks like I've wet myself? I remember when I was trying wedding dresses on I mentioned to the lady about a sweaty bum and she looked at me like I had three heads.

3. What if the florist/photographer/registrar/videographer/cake lady break down on their way?
I know that's what wedding insurance is for, but crikey.  I wouldn't like to be the person who had to pass that message on to me on the morning of the wedding if it did happen.

4. What if my body changes dramatically between my last fitting and the big day?
Scales aren't always a fair representation of our body shape.  I know when I did Slimming World 110%, I could have weeks where I was good as gold food wise, but if I hammered certain things in the gym it wouldn't necessarily show on the scales but my body shape would change.  I'll be petrified of touching a chocolate digestive after my last fitting, particularly given my dress was already slightly tight around my hips when I tried it on just before Christmas! Similarly, I'll be worried incase I lose more weight between my last fitting and the big day and it's too big. Although, I suppose then I don't have to worry about pigging out and drinking loads on the day!

5. What if I get a terrible break-out of spots?
I've found myself a make-up artist now (thanks to all you lovely lot who recommended me people!) so I'm hoping she also doubles as a magician and could deal with any break-out if it did occur.  I'm not typically a spotty person, usually just getting the odd pimple on my chin around the time that mother nature is visiting.  But you can guarantee I'll suddenly start suffering with acne again on the morning of the wedding.

6. What if I start crying and can't stop?
To be honest, I'm actually more worried about Tom doing this.  He said to me the other night "how much would you like me to cry?" As if he was going to plan his cry in advance.  He then went on to ask if I wanted him to do "full on crocodile tears" or uncontrollable sobbing.  I told him to go with whatever the mood took him, providing they were tears of happiness and not seeing me and crying in despair at what I look like/the prospect of spending the rest of his days with me.  It may take more than half an hour for our ceremony, though, if we're trying to get our words out in between snotty sobs.

7. What happens if I spill something down my dress?
I am quite clumsy. I often will spill stuff down me or just make a mess which ends up all over whatever I'm wearing. What if this happens during the wedding breakfast? Doesn't have to be food, I could spill my drink on me! I've tried hard to only focus on choosing plain coloured foods (i.e. not spag bol or tomato soup) for the wedding breakfast, but I hadn't really thought about drinks. I love red wine now but not sure I'd even dare have a bottle on the table incase I got over-excited, kicked the table and the whole bottle ended up down the most expensive item of clothing I'll ever wear in my entire life.

8. What if Tom doesn't turn up?
I would bet my entire life on this not happening. I know he'll be there ridiculously early on the morning of the wedding checking everything is coming together and watching the minutes tick by until people start arriving and the ceremony starts. However, when I get on one of my anxious and worrying trains, I always come across this stop. What if I am a complete cow bag in the weeks leading up to the big day and he decides he can't deal with me any more? What if he suddenly wakes up on the morning of the wedding and has a change of heart? Or, what if he has a bad dream about me and it makes him hate me? I get these all the time. Where he dream cheats on me or just pisses me off in my dream and I am mad at him for half the following day as a result. Poor guy, he really deserves a bloody medal if he does turn up and marry me - I'm crackers!

9. What if it rains?
The weather is one thing that, no matter how much I worry about it, I can change. I can't ring the weather up the day before and check that they do still have our booking for sun, or check that they are still coming and that they know what time the ceremony starts. If it rains, it rains. I don't have much luck with the weather being on my side, so I am prepared for rain. Whatever happens, rain or shine, I am sure the day will be magical.

At the end of the day, I must remember, that as long as Tom and I are there nothing else really matters.  There are dozens of things that could go wrong - believe me, I've thought of them all at some point - but the most important thing about the day is us getting married.

Everything else, while lovely additions, only adds to the day and the memories.  If I have to walk down the aisle with a scruffy top knot, my own haphazard attempt at make-up, with some daffodils I picked up from the hotel grounds on my way, then so be it.

As long as when I go to sleep that evening it's as Mrs Natalie Kershaw, then all will be well with the world.


Three pounds down in my first week back on plan

There's nothing quite like your waiter thinking the food you just ordered for yourself was for both you and your other half to give you a complex.

That's exactly what happened to me in Pizza Hut a few of weeks ago.

We got a voucher for Christmas so decided to make the most of it before the wedding got too close and I went on a fat, carb and fun-food ban.

After perusing the menu, and mocking Tom for wanting ribs at Pizza Hut, we were ready to place our order.

Me: "Can I have the sharing pizza, half Hawaiian and half cajun chicken with stuffed crust and a side of chips please?"
Waiter: "Okay, got that"
Tom: "And I'll have ribs please?"
Waiter: "A side of ribs?" *glancing back at me*
Tom: "No, ribs as my main, all that's just for her."

Cheers, babe.

I ate three and a half slices and a half of my chips before admitting defeat.  Tom had a slice and took the rest home for his dinner the following day.

I enjoyed the blowout, don't get me wrong, but it made me realise I need to get back to my Slimming World ways 100% before the wedding arrives and I roll down the aisle.  So for the past few weeks I have slowly been cutting the crap and introducing more Slimming World order back into my life.  Even if it's just adding that third of speed to my plate on a night, which I've got soooo bad at doing.  Even though I've been re-focusing and getting back on track since New Year, I've still not been keeping a proper record or sticking to it properly.

I'm just over half a stone away from my target, so it shouldn't be too difficult to reach. But I've really got out of the swing of following plan 100%.  The only Healthy Extras I measure are my oats (40g) and my two slices of wholemeal bread.  The only other HEB I will have are any stray hi-fi bars I find hiding in the back of the cupboard or if Alpen Lights are on offer.  And I never measure my milk in porridge/hot drinks or weigh my cheese out any more.  And I couldn't tell you the last time I counted syns or stuck to just 15 a day.

This week I decided I would make a food diary, as I find this really helps keep me on track.  Plus, when I publish it on my blog it stops me eating crap because I don't want to be embarrassed when you all see what I've been troffing!k

Monday, I was off to a great start.  I find the week much easier if I have a good first day.  I had a late meeting at work, which started at 7pm, so meant I was out the house when my usual snack/sweet cravings hit.

I always find it hard after tea.  Even though I'm usually full, fit to burst, I just want something sweet.  I had this discussion with my best friend recently.  She can exercise far more control over such situations than me.  Her advice was to have one Celebration/mini chocolate.  Perfect if, like her, you can just have the one.  For me, one would lead to two, to three, to four, then to the whole box (except the Snickers) being demolished.  Before I would know what was happening, I'd be surrounded by sweet wrappers, feeling sick and immediately wishing I'd not just done that.  I literally just can't control myself when it comes to things like that.  So I either have nothing at all, let it pass, and feel proud of myself.  Or I have one thing. Then two.  Then a third.  Then have to go brush my teeth to stop me putting anything else past my lips!

This week I even managed to have some days where I didn't have any syns at all.  I literally could not tell you the last time that happened.  The key to me not wanting to snack or have something sweet after tea is stuffing myself silly at tea time.  My meals are always sooooo much bigger and fuller when I am doing Slimming World, it's so weird!

Take this one, for example...

I had to carry my plate with two hands because it was so heavy!

It was my KFC style chicken which is an absolute fave of mine!  I love it even more because it's free!  There's no speed on my plate (mainly as there was no more room!) but I think it's excusable on a Saturday night. And it's so much better than reaching for a takeaway or a real KFC.

This was another big one - and was sooooo nice!

I always find my meat balls are either really dry or they fall apart really easy. I think it's because I try to put too much stuff in them.  But these ones were perfect, and were so tasty!

As you can see, my meals don't exactly look like I'm "on a diet".  I'm just eating lots of the right thing.  The sauce under my meatballs was packed full of peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion and passata.

And it's totally worked.  Refocusing and getting back into the swing of things has seen me lose 3lbs this week - wahoooo! My head is well and truly back in the game now.

So much so that when me and my mum went for lunch on Saturday to a gorgeous little cafe in Selby, I had a salad.  It does the most amazing cakes and panini sandwiches and I'd usually think "sod it" and have a panini and a slab of cake, but I didn't.  I was so proud of myself.  I had a roast ham salad and a small piece of rocky road. I couldn't not have anything sweet!

I've even been out this week and picked up some of the new HEB cereals.

I never have cereal - apart from porridge oats - as my HEB because you never get enough or it's boring cereal.  So, when I heard about the 5% sugar Cheerios I was straight on it.  You get so much for your 40g too and they just taste like normal Cheerios.  I also went and got the Tesco choco-nut malt wheats which are also 40g as HEB. You don't get as much of those, and the texture is not my cup of tea, but the chocolatey hit was amazing.  It even made the milk all chocolatey which was sooooo good.  I'll be having them again just for the chocolatey milk afterwards!

This is what they look like incase you want to pick some up for yourself. The Tesco cereal is just over £1 per box which is really good considering how expensive some cereals can be (the Cheerios were almost £3 a box - won't be buying them every week!)

While I was in Tesco on my cereal hunt I came across the biggest butternut squash I have ever seen in my entire life.

I had seen other SWers on Instagram posting pictures of big butternut squashes that they'd also got from Tesco, so I couldn't resist taking a picture of mine.  It's literally ginormous. And it only cost me £1!!!

It's really heavy, too.  I'm not really sure what I am going to use it for. I like to use butternut squash to make soup, so may use half of it for that. I'm totally not looking forward to trying to chop it up, though. I find it hard enough when they're small/normal size!

I've really, really enjoyed my first week back on plan. I don't feel like I've missed anything or been deprived of anything. If I wanted some sweets on an evening, I managed to control myself a small portion and work out rough syns for them. This has been the hardest part as I've not been to group for so long I don't have my online login or app to get to the syns list.

It's been such a big help for me this week keeping my food diary and knowing that I will be publishing it on here, so my apologies in advance for the number of Slimming World-related posts that will once again be coming your way over the next couple of months!

Food diary

Breakfast - Overnight oats - 40g porridge oats (HEB) with lots of fat free quark, mango, pineapple and raspberries.
Dinner - Homemade butternut squash and chilli soup.
Snack - Two clementines with a peach and pineapple Muller Light.
Tea - Cottage pie (syn free as made the mashed potato using fat free Quark) with carrots and broccoli.
Snack - Hi-fi bar (3 syns)
Syns for the day: 3

Breakfast - Fat free quark mixed with two Alpen Light bars (HEB), raspberries and two clementines.
Dinner - Homemade butternut squash and chilli soup.
Snack - Apple, clementine and a peach & pineapple Muller Light.
Tea - Spicy meatballs and linguine with peppers, cherry tomatoes & an onion/passata sauce.
Snack - Chocolate pretzels (approx 9 syns)
Syns for the day: 9

Breakfast - Bacon, poached eggs & beans followed by an apple.
Dinner - Homemade butternut squash and chilli soup with a chicken sandwich in wholemeal bread (HEB).
Tea - Grilled chicken with asparagus, broccoli, tenderstem broccoli and rice.
Snack - Fruit pastilles (5 syns)
Syns for the day: 5

Breakfast - Raspberries and clementines with fat free quark.
Dinner - Chicken sandwich in wholemeal bread (HEB), a mandarin Muller Light and two apples.
Tea - Pasta bolognaise with lots of cherry tomatoes.
Syns for the day: 0

Breakfast - Melon, strawberries & grapes.
Dinner - Chicken sandwich in wholemeal bread (HEB) and a mandarin Muller Light.
Tea - Smoked salmon and king prawn linguine in a creamy fat feee quark, chilli & garlic 'sauce' with asparagus and spinach.
Syns for the day: 0

Breakfast - Bacon, poached eggs, baked beans and two slices of wholemeal toast (HEB) followed by an apple and two clementines.
Dinner - Roast ham salad (lettuce, rocket, spinach, peppers, red onion, sweetcorn, tomato & cucumber)
Snack - Rocky road (approx 12 syns)
Tea - KFC style chicken with homemade chips, sweetcorn and baked beans.
Syns for the day: Approx 12.

Breakfast - 40g Tesco choco-nut malt wheats (HEB) with 150ml semi skimmed milk (HEA - used the rest in coffees throughout the day) with two clementines.
Dinner - Roast gammon and roast turkey with two small Yorkshire puddings (5 syns), broccoli, parsnips, cabbage, carrots, two roast potatoes (5 syns) and gravy (4 syns)
Tea - Didn't need any tea!
Syns for the day: 14


Are drunk girls wearing revealing clothes asking for it?


No. No. No.

I cannot believe this question has even been debated recently.  Last week, while I was off work, I caught bits of This Morning.  There was a woman on it one particular day who said that women should think about where they are, what they wear, and how much they drink to prevent being raped or sexually assaulted.

It's absolutely barbaric to suggest that women wearing short skirts, low-cut tops, or skimpy outfits should take a portion of the blame for someone else not being able to keep their hands to themselves or control their sexual advances.

I used to wear all kinds of skimpy clothes when I was at uni.  I enjoyed the whole 'short shorts' phase - like so many other girls did during the 2010-2012 period - and would always wear something that showed a lot of leg.  That wasn't an open invitation for men to touch me, or come onto me.

Nine times out of ten when I went out at uni, I was dressing to make myself feel good, not to attract the attention of blokes.  Do guys really think that I would spend all that money on clothes and make-up, then all that time getting ready, just to make myself more attractive to them?  Nope.  It was about me feeling confident - whether it be body confident or just generally confident in myself - and me feeling happy.

This image shows everything that is wrong with those assumptions.
Am I automatically a whore just because I liked wearing short shorts on a night out?  Am I asking for it just because the skirt or dress I wear skims my bum?


The debate came after a new survey claimed that one third of people blame women wearing short skirts for sexual assaults.  Shockingly, it was a third of women surveyed who said other women should shoulder the responsibility for their attack if they were wearing provocative clothing on a night out.

I couldn't believe it - women blaming other women?  Seriously?!  What happened to girl power and having each other's backs?  Women saying this about each other just makes it ok for guys to think the same.

Like the meaningful moment in Mean Girls where Ms Norbury says the girls have to stop calling each other sluts and whores, because it just makes it ok for guys to call girls sluts and whores.  This is just like that.

One of the ladies on This Morning discussing the survey was a journalist called Angela Epstein.  She said that women release a level of personal responsibility if they put themselves in a situation where the element of vulnerability may be heightened.  She compared it to leaving the door to her home unlocked because someone may break in.

Only someone of a certain mindset would walk into a home if they saw the door left wide open.  Most people, if they didn't just ignore it and walk straight past, would knock on the door, ask if there was anyone inside, see if they were ok etc.  Only opportunists, those with a different train of thought, would see it as an invitation to walk in and help themselves to whatever they fancied.  Women wearing revealing clothes, by the same comparison, is not an invitation for men to take advantage.  And I am pretty sure most normal, stand-up men wouldn't do so, so the whole debate seemed rather pointless to me.

Speaking after the item aired, she said she wasn't trying to blame women for being raped.  She was simply highlighting the fact that dressing 'provocatively' makes women vulnerable to predators and opportunists.  Describing something as being provocative is so subjective, though.  What provokes one person may not provoke another.  So where is the line drawn?  It is not provocative to wear a short skirt.  Nor is it provocative to get drunk and dance like Beyonce.  Not in my eyes, anyway.  Ask someone else, they may say it is.

A few times I remember guys grabbing my bum on a night out and I would always send them packing.  I punched a guy once who would not stop touching my bum, despite me asking him politely four times to stop.  However, of all the skimpy and revealing outfits I wore on all the hundreds of nights out I must have gone on at uni, it was an incredibly rare occurrence.

Why, just because a girl is wearing something that makes her feel confident and good about herself, should it be ok for a stranger to try and feel her up?  If she was wearing a sign that said "grope me, I'm yours", I would totally understand.  But nothing about a short skirt says that.

By attributing short skirts as the reason for sexual assaults/rape, it almost gives a free pass to people, who will use that to their advantage and as an excuse.  I can see it now - "oh, well she was wearing hotpants so she was asking for it".

'Asking for it' - I hate that.  Nobody is ever, ever, ever asking for it by what they wear.

We should be able to live in a world where we can wear what we want without judgement and without people thinking it's ok to use that as an excuse or invitation.  Just like we should be able to live in a world where if we leave our front door unlocked, someone won't let themselves in and steal from us.

Just like, by the same token, guys who go on a night out without a shirt - whether it be as part of fancy dress or just because they feel like it - aren't inviting women to touch their torso.  I know men fall victim to the same assumptions - 'he's got his shirt off so he wants me to touch his abs' - I am in no way saying it's a women-only problem.  The topic of discussion on This Morning was simply just related to the survey about women.

When it comes down to it, the only person responsible and to blame for a sexual attack is the attacker